Epiphanes came to the Seleucid throne in 175 b.c. with the meaning of his name being: "Manifest God," and in this he pre-figures the Anti-christ, of whom the scriptures prophesy: "And arms (forces) shall stand on his (Antiochus) part; and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate." And such as do wickedly against the covenant, shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that know their God shall be strong and do exploits. (Daniel 11:31-32)
And again: He sits in the temple, showing Himself that he is God.
Seleucus IV, having been assassinated by one of his couriers, his brother Antiochus Epiphanes hastened to occupy his throne. He was not the natural heir. The natural heir Demetrius, son of Seleucus, was still alive; but held hostage at Rome. In Daniel 11:21, God states that Antiochus Epipanes "obtained the kingdom by flatteries." Bribery was no doubt the instrument he used to obtain the throne.
Judea with it's temple was one of the territories which Antiochus Epiphanes inherited with his empire. Antiochus, certain that the Jews would never live in subjection to him, issued an edict commanding them to conform to the laws of other nations; in successive edicts, he forbid their usual sacrifices in the temple, their festivals and their sabbath. He out-lawed circumcision. Observing the law of Moses became a capital crime.
He appointed a pro-Seleucid Hellenist as high priest. On the 25th of Kislev (December) in honour of the sovereign's birthday, a dedication of sorts was solomized by the installation of "the abomination of desolation." The statue of Jupiter Olympus was placed on the altar of the temple, and Jews were commanded to apostacize. Many corrupt Jews complied with Antiochus orders, but traditional Jews were enraged and deliberately opposed him.
The crowning offence, was with the Jews defying his orders, Antiochus ordered that the sanctuary be profaned through a pagan altar being prepared atop the altar of Israel, and a pig being slain and offered upon it. Jehovahs house was then dedicated to the Greek god the Olympian Zeus. Above the great altar, an image of the mythological god was hung. Ancient records record that the facial features of it, were in the likeness of the king. Antiochus thrust himself and his lordship upon the Jewish people, as "Epiphanes: The Manifest God!" The invaders spattered the holy of holies. The sacred scrolls were also desacrated with the swines blood, before being set aflame.
Licentious pagan rites were committed in the courts, and such sacrifices continued at regular intervals thereafter.
In a small and obscure village called Modin, 17 miles to the northwest of Jerusalem, Matthias a temple priest had retired with his sons. An armed band was dispatched to the village on order of the king. An envoy was sent to deal with this pocket of Jewish dissenters. The king's officer beckoned Matthias to step from the crowd, selecting the aged priest to be the one to thrust the knife into the sacrificial hog. Matthias stood stone-faced, and unmoving. An anxious villager lept forward to do the honours, and enraged; Matthias struck him to the ground.
Following Matthias decease, Judah (The Hammer) Maccabeus, provided leadership for the band of the faithful.
Lysias, regent of the western empire; with a corp of expert military commanders and armies, was sent to overcome them. At Emmaeus, the confident Selucids were beaten. Lysias then undertook to conquer Jerusalem, but was defeated at Beth-sur.
Antiochus himself, with his treasuries exhausted, went to Persia to collect tribute. Upon arriving at Ecbatana he received news of the defeat of Nicanor and Timotheus, and that Judas Maccabaeus with his 4 brothers, had fought against the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes, against unsurmountable odds. He was now in possession of the temple of Jerusalem, having restored the worship there. On receiving this inteleligence report, Antiochus urged the chariot driver to force the horses onward toward Jerusalem, threatening to make the city, the grave for the Jews; saying he would colonize the land with pagans. Enroute, he fell from his chariot and died.
Because of the faithfulness of these Israelites, the true and living God brought a mighty victory.